Saturday, February 23, 2008

Editorial Leadership

That's the name of one of our classes this term. And, since some of my many fans have asked for samples of my writing -- OK, OK, in my dreams they have -- here's a recent assignment:

Punctuate This

No wonder we can’t figure out complicated problems like health care and Social Security. We can’t even figure out how to punctuate Presidents Day.

Northerners of a certain age remember making stovepipe hats out of black construction paper near February 12, eating cherry pie on February 22 and having two days of no school.

Pity our children and grandchildren. The Uniform Holidays Bill of 1968 moved Washington’s Birthday, as it had been called since 1885, to the third Monday in February. One holiday instead of two.

Side note: George Washington might not have minded the switch. A change in calendar systems during his lifetime shifted his birthday from February 11 to February 22.

The 1968 bill also proposed renaming the holiday “Presidents’ Day” (apostrophe after the ‘s’) to honor both Washington and Lincoln. But that part of the bill got lost, and it wasn’t reinserted in 1971 when the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed.

President Nixon proclaimed it “Presidents’ Day” in 1971, in honor of all presidents, but a presidential proclamation is not the same as an executive order.

Technically, we celebrate one president’s birthday (apostrophe before the ‘s’) because the holiday is still listed in Federal statutes as Washington’s Birthday. State statutes are another matter.

In Alabama, for instance, on the third Monday in February we officially celebrate George Washington’s birthday and Thomas Jefferson’s birthday – although Jefferson was born in April. Alabama Department of Archives and History officials were stumped as to why we honor Jefferson, saying only that it “slipped into the code” in 1907.

“Presidents Day” (no apostrophe) has become the officially preferred designation, in an attempt to honor all presidents, even though “President’s Day” is the p.c. – punctuationally correct – version and even though the Chicago Manual of Style and many dictionaries prefer “Presidents’ Day.”

And even though, officially, it’s still just Washington’s Birthday.

With the latest round of presidential candidates riding into their respective Jerusalems so convention delegates can raise the palm branches and shout ‘Hosanna!’ we should acknowledge the peculiar combination of destiny and drive that has drawn fewer than 50 people – very different in parentage, in education, in religion, in character, in conviction of what was best for this country – to occupy its highest office.

We should also acknowledge that we among the nations of the earth can most truly say to our children that any of them might grow up to be President of the United States.
We should not take either of those peculiarities for granted, regardless of whether we agree with the current occupant of the office or not.

It’s time to make it official. Presidents Day.

No apostrophe. Honoring our past. Keeping faith with our future.

If we can do that, maybe there’s hope for resolving health care and Social Security.

Gray Inside and Out

Weather outside: Overcast all day long.

Weather inside: Not much brighter.

This news from Anniston brought to you courtesy of KFCJ.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

For My Far Away Sweetie

I did this cooking video for one of our classes. Also did a man-on-the-street -- or,in this case, people-in-the-park -- video which The Star tried to upload it to its site in time for Valentine's Day, but it kept hanging up at the third frame. C'est la vie.

Videos that run on the Star's site include an upfront ad -- currently the ad is for a local Cadillac dealership.

Ads, of course, being how a news organization keeps the bills and the staff paid. The Internet has changed how businesses advertise, so one of the current issues is how to make the Web site draw revenue in ways that print used to. Voila!

And, because I say the recipe is available on 'our' Web site, here it is:

1 c. honey warmed over low heat
3 c. flour mixed with 1/2 tsp. each of baking soda and salt, plus 1 tsp. each of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves
1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts
8 oz. finely chopped candied fruit -- Add the fruit and nuts to the flour mixture
1 egg and 3/4 c. brown sugar mixed together in a large bowl
Add 2 tsp. lemon peel and 1 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice and the honey
Mix in the flour-fruit-nut mixture

Roll on floured board and cut into shapes OR spread in a lightly greased 15"x10" cookie sheet. Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for about 12 min. or until light brown. Cool.

Glaze with 1 c. powdered sugar mixed with 3 Tbsp. water (for a thicker frosting increase powdered sugar to 2 c. and add a few more drops of water.)

Store in an airtight container. The cookies harden when they cool, but the frosting softens them again. The longer these sit, the better they taste. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Typicus Touri

I are one. Or at least I were one.

Two weekends ago, Sandra Martinez and I drove to Panama City Beach, Fla., for the American Journalism Historians Association's Southeastern Symposium. Jennifer and Jeremy Cox, fellow Fellows, drove down separately ... er, together, but in a separate car. Sandra came to cheer on the three of us as we presented papers we had done in our Media History class for Dr. Julie Williams, professor of Media History at Samford University in Birmingham and our professor through UA.

The conference was fun and informative. Feminist and ethnic perspectives on historic media tended to predominate; our papers were unique in that regard: Jen's focused on how the media reported the deaths of two blonde bombshells 70-some years apart, Jeremy's was a look at sports journalism focusing on the controversy the last time the Cubse. won the World Series, and mine told of the beginnings of medical journalism.

We walked the beaches and bought trinkets and met new friends. On the way home, we stopped in DeFuniak Springs, Fla, which was just winding up their 13th Annual Assembly at the Florida Chautauqua Center. What an event! Civil War/War of Northern Aggression reenactors, art shows, horse & carriage rides, music and scholarly speakers from various disciplines. What a great idea! Go to for more info.

But pictures are more fun, so here you are:

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Equal Beagle Time . . .

In the interest of providing equal time, and because of a comment made by someone, enjoy the video below. Mike Huckabee also spoke in Birmingham last weekend. Huckabee spoke on Saturday to a crowd of @ 1,900 at Samford College. Obama spoke on Sonday to a crowd of somewhere between 8,600 (arena capacity and I saw a few empty seats although others said people were left standing outside) and 11,000 (campaign manager's words) at Bartow Arena on the UAB campus.

For a sense of what each said that weekend, go to and scroll down to the videos. Compare and contrast style and content, etc.

The comment? "I assume that because you went to see Obama on Sunday, that's where your persuasions lie."

Puh-leeze. Shouldn't we be listening to as many candidates as possible? Anyway, in the interest of equal time (in terms of Republicans vs. Democrats -- remind me again what those terms mean?), I offer this video found on YouTube.